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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

7th place — Jesica Maldonado Matias: I said goodbye to the god that failed me

FFRF awarded Jesica $400.

By Jesica Maldonado Matias

grew up in a Hispanic household with austere traditions to be followed, where religion has always been a high and mighty law to comply with and follow without fault. This included the tedious ritual of church on Saturday mornings, two bewildering prayers before bed every night, and the frankly discouraging sessions of Sunday school required for a first communion. These activities deemed themselves vastly colorless and excruciating for me to complete as I began to form ideas and beliefs for myself and realized that there is no such thing as God.

As I began to grow up with the silent idea that challenged my family’s religion, I began to exhibit it, especially through TV shows and music, and they immediately began to bestow judgment and distaste for my alienation from their ideal white-picket-fence beliefs. Soon, at the tender age of 12, I decided to finally remove any religious jewelry or decorations that stripped me of my true identify and molded me to their senseless beliefs. Although I experienced their scoffs of judgment frequently, the worst ensued from my distant family and community in Mexico. My mom, who ultimately accepted my beliefs, would tell me about the inveterate and foolish gossip that my family spread. I was called many things, some of which included satanist, witch, uneducated, devil’s child, stupid and several other equivalent terms. When I visited my family, they would look down upon me as if I were — as sorrowful as it makes me to say it — scum. The pure disappointment on their faces was louder than any silence I’d ever heard. It would be reasonable to conclude that I would try to please them to feel accepted again, but, instead, I finally felt like an individual rather than one defined by the wishes of my family. I felt free as I liberated myself from the suffocating beliefs of Catholicism and decided that it is not my job to sculpt myself to anyone’s standards but my own.

The one individual I could always trust not to elude my personal beliefs has been my mom, who began to question why I reject religion. First and foremost, I find the idea of an invisible, almighty man in the sky downright ridiculous and not scientifically possible. Growing up surrounded by Catholic individuals, I learned that one vacuous factor they share is their rejection of scientific facts. I have always been profoundly fascinated by science, especially biology and evolution. They simply label evolution and the big bang theory as shams. The nasty attitudes of many religious followers have also been another reason I chose to reject religion. Isn’t their religion based on freewill and acceptance of those different from them? More importantly, if God created the whole universe, which is vast and beyond comprehension, who are we to say that we’re the only ones important to him and not just an insignificant occurrence within the universe? The bible does not provide answers for this, only assumptions gathered from different beliefs and viewpoints that do not serve as reliable. It is ridiculous to simply accept a 2,700-year-old book as a factual manual to live by.

For me, the biggest factor contributing to my freedom from religion is the truly delusional idea of a god who cares, who fixes it when you pray to him and who is good despite the cruel fact that the bible paints him multiple times as a non-intervening God who sees everything before it happens and allows it. If he didn’t stop the fall of humanity, he won’t be stopping tragedies anytime soon. I mean, would you really want to believe in a God who doesn’t believe in you?

Jesica, 18, is from Palm Springs, Calif., and attends San Francisco State University. Her goal is to earn a

Jesica Maldonado Matias

master’s degree in business administration and to become a horror novel author.